Strike writers to spare Grammys from picketing

Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:37pm EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The union for striking Hollywood screenwriters said on Tuesday it had decided to spare next month's Grammy Awards from picketing that could dampen the recording industry's highest honors.

The announcement by the Writers Guild of America marked a surprise reversal from the union's previous stance that it would likely picket the Grammy show, slated for a live telecast on February 10 from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Writers Guild leaders said the decision, approved by the WGA's governing board, was "made on behalf of our brothers and sisters" in two unions that represent musical performers and had sought a strike "waiver" for the Grammys.

The move was welcomed by those unions, as well as by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which sponsors the Grammys, and CBS, which will carry the telecast.

"We are gratified that the 50th annual Grammy Awards will focus solely on the great music, artists and charitable work resulting from our show," academy spokesman Neil Portnow said.

The Writers Guild has been using the threat of picketing of major entertainment awards venues to draw attention to its cause and to press major film and TV studios to renew negotiations aimed at settling the union's 11-week-old strike.

The Grammy decision came as the WGA and studios announced they would open "informal discussions" on Wednesday aimed at paving the way for a resumption of official contract talks that collapsed on December 7. The two sides have not met since then.

In giving the Grammys a pass, the striking writers cleared the way for the show to go on without the spectacle of stars having to cross picket lines. It was not clear whether union writers would still be barred from working on the show.   Continued...

<p>Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson attend the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, February 11, 2007. The Writers Guild of America said Tuesday it won't picket the Grammy Awards, but the Recording Academy hasn't yet secured an interim work agreement for guild writers to participate in a telecast of the February 10 show. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>